Doctors surgeries team up to improve primary health care system

PUBLISHED: 07:00 06 June 2018

Doctors and practice managers of the two localities. Picture: Eleanor Young

Doctors and practice managers of the two localities. Picture: Eleanor Young

Eleanor Young

Surgeries will work ‘cohesively’ to improve Weston-super-Mare and North Somerset’s health system.

Practices have teamed up to form two localities – one for Weston and Worle and another for Woodspring – to provide ‘better outcomes’ for their patients.

The plan was first put forward last year with four surgeries initially signing up to work together.

Dr John Heather from New Court Surgery in Locking Road, who leads the locality groups’ meetings, told the Mercury the ‘catalyst’ was the planned housing development in Locking and the proposed doctors’ surgery there.

However the plan was altered after the merging of three South West clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) – forming the Bristol North Somerset South Gloucestershire (BNSSG) CCG.

Now every surgery or practice group in North Somerset is part of one of the two localities.

Dr Heather said: “A locality is a group of practices coming together within a geographical area and to work together in a new cohesive and collaborative way – both with each other and with the community, mental health services and social care so everyone gets a consistent offering.”

BNSSG CCG created six localities in total across its reach area, with an additional three in Bristol and one in South Gloucestershire, highlighting the need for ‘improved access’.

Dr Heather said before becoming localities, surgeries were like ‘corner shops’, where they were ‘more concerned about their independent business than the bigger picture’.

He added: “Some things are best achieved by working together, particularly in a time when there are not enough doctors, nurses and practice managers because they haven’t been trained.

“There is a severe recruitment problem at the moment so this plan can increase resilience.”

While the foundations of the localities are still being formed, it is hoped patients will gain better access to primary care through cross-practice booking and, as a result, reduce the pressure on secondary care, like hospitals.

Dr Heather said: “We have been meeting regularly and spending time together and thinking about what our priorities are and things we can do together to try and have a better offering to patients.”

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